ALTON ORGAN SOCIETY (Founded 1967) ♬♪𝄞 Updated Saturday 18 May 2024

Alton Organ Society's 2023/2024 Season of Organ Concerts
Organ Recitals Nationwide

The final concert of the 2023/2024 series was given by Tom Winpenny (St Alban's Cathedral), on Tuesday 7 May 2024. To celebrate the end of a very success season, wine and canapés were served beforehand building the atmosphere to what proved to be a brilliant concert. Last year, Tom recorded the complete organ works of John Gardner (famous for the sung carol "Tomorrow shall be my dancing day") and Tom included five of Gardner's organ pieces in his programme - viewed here. Present at the concert was John Gardner's son, Chris, who is well known locally to Alton for his deep involvement with the local musical scene. This includes principal conductor of the Alton Concert Orchestra since 2017 and conductor of Cantique chamber choir (2010-2020). A versatile musician working as a composer, timpanist, accompanist (for the Alton Operatic & Drama Society), conductor and occasional clarinetist . Chris has been a remarkable champion of his late father's work including working with Tom Winpenny to record CD last year.

John Gardner composed music from a very young age and was first published whilst John was still at school. He won an organ scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, though he played little and after service in the RAF during WWII, his career encompassed being chorus master and repetiteur at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and teaching at the Royal Academy of Music and St Paul's Girls School among other appointments. He was a prolific composer.

It was a stunning organ concert both introducing the audience to new pieces by J Gardner and performing other well known works such as Bach Prelude & Fugue in G (BWV 550) which was played with such lightness and accuracy. The pedal cam was back in action and all Tom's technical skills and professional musicianship could be witnessed both visually and aurally. Before and after, Chris Gardner handed out two CDs of his father's organ works with comprehensive programme notes in exchange for voluntary donations towards the organ restoration fund.

The season may have ended but organ music continues at St Lawrence Church during the Spring and Summer with the Lunchtime Organ Concerts and a special appearance by Ben Bloor ((Brompton Oratory Church) on Tuesday 9 July 2024 starting at 8.00 pm. Both events are part of the inaugural Alton Arts Festival. Admission to Ben's concert (including programme) is £10 at the door (free admission to full time students under the age of 18). Lunchtime organ concerts are free with a retiring voluntary donation towards the organ restoration fund.
David Hill MBE organist and International Choral Director, Patron of the Alton Organ Society and currently President of the Royal College of Organists very kindly recorded a CD on the St Lawrence Church, Alton, organ to celebrate 55 years of the Organ Society and to raise funds for the restoration of the Speechly organ. The music was recorded by Herald AV Publications, a specialist recording company, in October 2022. The CD was launched at St Lawrence Church, Alton on Tuesday 4 October 2022. The CD costs £15 of which £3.00 of the purchase price will go towards the organ restoration fund. David's CD was reviewed by Choir & Organ Magazine and copies of that review and Graeme Kay's article on the Society can be seen here. The CD can be purchased from members of the Society Committee, from Resurrection Furniture in Alton and at the Society's Organ Concerts. For further details and purchase of a CD do use the contact page here.

There is a new website that lists national organ concerts (including those held in Alton) and can be viewed here. Please list & Organ Recitals Nationwide among your favourites.